A San Francisco couple has been sentenced to 15 and 30 years respectively for a solar panel leasing Ponzi.
- DC Solar Solutions was a legitimate solar panel manufacturer, which sold equipment for nearly a decade.
- The company notably offered trailer-mounted panels to be used for concerts and construction sites.
- As the business grew, they offered to lease back those mounted panels from customers and sub-lease them to users. Customers were receiving a high income for funding the manufacturing and distribution of the equipment.
- The company created 34 investment funds for the activity, collecting over $900m from institutionals.
- The company collected tax credits or let the funds’ investors collect tax credit from the IRS.
- In reality, DC Solar was unable to sublease the equipment and they used the proceed of new sales to pay the income of other customers.
- The company actually stopped producing panels altogether, fudging inventory numbers, inspections and financials. They paid bribes to accountants, inventory managers, and lease co-signers. They forged reports sent to investors.
- There was $2.5bn of lease transactions, resulting in a $1bn loss.
- Even the king of value, Warren Buffett, fell for the trap and lost $340m.
Jeff Carpoff and his wife squandered money on luxury and prominence: 150 collectible cars, 32 houses, a baseball team, jewelry, gambling, a private jet service, parties… The couple still forfeited $120m in assets.
When the FBI raided their homes and offices, the defendants claimed their innocence, mentioning a tax issue. They eventually guilty in courts.
There are 6 other co-defendants (CFO, accountants…) independently accused. The case is USA vs Jeff Carpoff, ED of California, Case 2:20-cr-00017-JAM.